Thursday, 14 July 2016

Recently Read: The Girl on the Train

“Hollowness: that I understand. I'm starting to believe that there isn't anything you can do to fix it. That's what I've taken from the therapy sessions: the holes in your life are permanent. You have to grow around them, like tree roots around concrete; you mold yourself through the gaps” 

I picked up The Girl on the Train last week. I started it on Wednesday morning - I only intended on reading a few chapters but ended up finishing the whole book before the end of the day. I consider myself a fast reader but it's been a long time since I've been so compelled by a novel I've devoured it in a matter of hours.

The story centres around Rachel Watson, a lonely, divorced alcoholic whose life is spiraling out of control.  She travels into London every morning on the commuter train which passes the house she used to share with her ex husband, who now lives there with his new wife and baby. A few doors down live a young, beautiful couple who Rachel often witnesses breakfasting on their roof terrace. In her desolation, she fantasizes about the pair - what jobs they might have, what their names could be and what they do in their spare time. Despite having never met them, she imagines them to enjoy the idyllic marriage she so desperately desires.

One morning, the train is making its usual journey past the couples' home when Rachel sees something that disturbs her. Her interest then transforms into an unhealthy obsession as she finds herself becoming involved in something particularly sinister.

I was eager to learn more about Rachel right from the get go - what had caused her to become an alcoholic? And why did she and her husband separate? I've come across a few reviews stating that she is an unlikable character; but I really felt for her throughout the book, despite the fact she's very frustrating. Maybe it's the cynic in me but I found it refreshing to read about someone seriously flawed rather than your usual heroine who can do no wrong.

Rachel isn't the only person with issues - this is one of those books where you just can't trust anybody. Each individual is seriously shady and becomes a suspect at one point or another. If you enjoy a bit of character loathing (let's face it, who doesn't?) you will love this!

The story is told in a 'diary' format from first person POV and the narrative shifts between Rachel, Megan and Anna. I usually don't like it when a book is written from different perspectives but The Girl on the Train executed it well. The dates can get a little confusing - while the story is set in the summer of 2013, some events take place during the year previous. I did end up having to flick back several times to check what was going on, but the time difference eventually catches up.

The story is incredibly fast paced and once I was hooked, I couldn't put it down. As with most thrillers I've read, I was desperate to get to the end and discover 'whodunit' (I had to resist taking a peak at the last few pages - more than once!) A lot of people have stated that they found the ending predictable, but I personally didn't see it coming. That being said, I can't say it blew me away like I was hoping it would.

I feel the underlying theme of this novel is the realisation that nobody has the 'perfect life.' As a society we are obsessed with perfection; always aiming towards the beautiful house, the glittering career, the enviable marriage. We see people who we deem 'perfect' and can't help but compare ourselves to them, despite never really knowing what goes on behind closed doors. Everyone has their secrets and demons and I believed this novel portrayed that beautifully. It reminded me very much of The Little House by Philippa Gregory in that it presents the dark side of suburban life.

I'm going to give this 4/5. It's one of the best books I've read in a while and kept me thoroughly occupied on my day off! I'm taking one star away as the ending felt a bit silly to me, but other than that, I believe this in an incredible thriller that will keep just about anyone gripped for hours on end.

Have you read The Girl on the Train? What were your thoughts? x

2 comments:

  1. I read this a couple of months ago, it was enjoyable as you say! Pretty dark and gripping. I did find the ending a bit off as well though.

    Jane / deluminators

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  2. I loved this book! I so agree about the ending though, really tempted by The Little House now, might have to add it to the to read list :)

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